I don't want to over analyze the San Diego Chargers' first preseason game but let's not pretend that it wasn't pretty damn exciting to actually be able to watch some of your favorite players get out on the field, if only for a couple snaps.
I'll keep this strictly to the defense, as there are a couple of new faces and players we can expect to play heavy snaps. It took all but one play for San Diego to come out in a new look. After Dallas motioned, the defense adjusted into a "4-3 Stack" look that left Melvin Ingram in an off-the-ball linebacker spot. It happened a couple times. Is it something we'll see more of? Time will tell. Here's just some things that I noticed.
Takeaways up front
The first time the Dallas Cowboys went to a passing formation, Ricardo Mathews subbed in for Kendall Reyes, which is a good thing. That gives you four high energy guys up front. Mathews had a couple of nice rushes, including one that nearly resulted in an interception. On the second pass rush attempt, Melvin Ingram did this at the bottom of the screen.
Corey Liuget getting a nice push from the left guard as well. Liuget was in the backfield a couple of times. The expectations are high for Ingram. On the first play of the game, Ingram was caught out of position and Dallas was able to pick up a 1st down, but he was in the QB's face a couple times as well. He will be very important to the team's success this season.
Also, Donald Butler had a very nice play.
Yes, number 56 in navy blew up a play in the backfield and helped Ingram secure a tackle for a loss. THAT'S the kind of aggression he needs to play with every time. I know that the popular belief is that the team needs to upgrade at nose tackle, but it's holes like this where the inside linebackers just don't make plays.
Manti Te'o missed a tackle, but also helped make a play by aggressively taking on a block. It'll be interesting to see if Butler's play does indeed improve, and how that directly correlates to Te'o.
Denzel Perryman, eh. We'll get to Steve Williams, but Perryman did him no favors but getting sucked up on play-action and leaving the middle of the field wide open. On the 3rd & 17 Perryman flat out misplayed the pass. The touchdown was on him. He hesitated, and paid for it.
I'm not going to kill him, because it's one play. But I certainly will be on the look out to see if this is going to be a recurring thing. He was drafted to be the "hammer", so you'd think he would be aggressive. Just something to keep an eye on. Speaking of hammers, Kavell Conner had a nice stop in the 1st quarter.
Getting back to the inside, I'm pretty sure Ryan Carrethers started (Editor's Note: Carrethers did start, but mostly because Sean Lissemore missed the game with an injury). You didn't hear his name much, but that's a good thing. I saw him hold his ground versus the run as well as split a double team and get in the QB's face once. The team is going to need him. He doesn't have to be Jamaal Williams, but if Carrethers can just do his job and allow the guys behind him to make plays, the defense should be fine. For what it's worth, Darius Philon and Mitch Unrein looked like capable bodies. Philon actually picked up a QB hit.
Speed off the edge
On the play below, Jerry Attaochu ran right by an oncoming blocker and would've had a tackle for loss on the running back had it been a run play. Attaochu is fast. Very fast. I don't know why, but he was in man coverage a couple times in the 2nd quarter. He should be good for a handful of sacks off pure speed. It was good to see him, Ingram and the other guys off the edge looping towards the inside to take advantage of their speed.
Back to the play, it was a play-action pass and Kyle Emanuel showed he can close. He also used is patent counter step that he showed in college.
Emanuel is going to have to play, especially with Tourek Williams in a walking boot. He looked comfortable, like it wasn't too much for him. He showed he can move, showed that he has athleticism to drop in coverage, and most importantly, he showed he can hold up against the run. In the 3rd quarter, he had a nice play where he stood up the Tight End then disengaged to make a run stop. We'll be keeping an eye on him to see how he progresses but whether he's ready or not, he's going to play a lot this year. I think he'll be just fine.
All eyes on Addae
The secondary was honestly a little underwhelming. Dallas didn't even look towards Jason Verrett when he was in the game.
I was taking a close look at Jahleel Addae for obvious reasons. Meh. Early on it was the same old story. Addae came up out of control and missed a tackle. He was beat by the Tight End for a slant. Addae is going to have to learn how to play under control or else someone else is going to have an opportunity to take his spot. He did have some nice tackles, though.
The best safety in the NFL gave up a short pass that lead to a 1st down on a long 3rd down.
Steve Williams had a nice pass breakup but was the victim of a couple passes that, even though Perryman did him no favors, he has to be in better position to make a play on the pass. With his size he has absolutely no room for error. There were routes where he wasn't even close.
I thought Patrick Robinson was fine. I thought Jimmy Wilson was just kind of there. He did get beat deep once, but I don't have a strong opinion on him. No comment on Craig Mager.
Looking forward to next week so we can see the starters for hopefully a few more series.